Seizures of counterfeit goods, including tobacco and alcohol, by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have reached a three-year high, according to the annual Intellectual Property (IP) Crime Report.
More than £70m-worth of counterfeit goods were seized in the 12 months to March 2012, with fake clothing, cigarettes, DVDs, alcohol and footwear the most commonly counterfeited items respectively.
Better collaboration between key bodies including local trading standards, HMRC and the UK Border Force had driven the higher seizure rate, said minister for Intellectual property Baroness Wilcox.
More than 100 local authorities submitted data on who they had worked with, the most common types of IP crime that they investigated, and what other types of criminality it was linked with.
Investigations of fake tobacco and alcohol have increased in the past year, with cigarettes and tobacco the second most investigated products by trading standards authorities in 2011/12. Just under 90% of trading standards authorities had investigated counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes in 2011/12, up on 80% in 2010/11. Investigations into fake alcohol have also increased, with more than 75% reporting this compared with 64% the previous year.
The survey also asked respondents to identify other criminality associated with their IP crime investigations. Some 75% said that benefit fraud was the crime most frequently associated with IP crime. Organised crime, followed by drug crime, violent crime and people trafficking were also cited by trading standards authorities as associated crimes.